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Nafplion

Today is our first day at an actual tour site. Yesterday was just boarding the ship and eating dinner. I assume no one wanted a dialog on that. Today we are in the port of Nafplion (yes, I spelled it correctly) and we saw an archeological site called Epidaurus and a fort called Paladimi Fortress. The archeological site had another theater with stone seats. This one was small, seating somewhere around 13,000. The guide did tell us that was one of the smaller ones. The Greeks were big on their plays. Remember, a Greek theater is only for plays, no music. One part of it is shown below along with some random tourists and one not so random.

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Seems that the history of theaters was involved with the god Dionysus. Dionysus is the son of Zeus and his girlfriend. Her being pregnant irritated Hera, Zeus's wife, who arranged to have Zeus's girlfriend killed. That did happen when she was 7 months pregnant, but Zeus got there in time to save the baby. He did so by sewing the baby into his thigh so he could finish the final 2 months development until birth. The story says that Dionysus was "born twice," once by his mother and the second time by Zeus. I have some doubts as to the veracity of this.

Zeus's actions did not completely get Dionysus out of trouble. Hera was still looking for him to deliver the same fate as she did to his mother. To save him, Zeus gave baby-D to Hermes (the messenger of the gods with winged shoes) to fly around and find a safe haven for Dionysus. While flying, Dionysus needed nourishment, which Hermes provided by feeding him what he had during his flight, which were grapes. As they say, push came to shove and Dionysus became the god of wine. Dominion over theater was thrown in for good luck.

The theaters started as tributes to Dionysus with groups of people celebrating by dancing in a circle and singing. Possibly there was also some wine consumption, just to enhance the vocal output. Eventually, people came to view these celebration events and viewing seats were added. As it got more involved, the presentations grew more sophisticated and a stage was added with rooms for the actors to change costumes, masks, and prepare. Actors, seats, a stage and before you know it, you got a whole theater. Also worthy of note is that all actors were male. One of the reasons masks were needed was when a male actor needed to appear to be female.

The theater we saw was impressive for several acoustic reasons. One is that speeches made from the focal point of the stage could be heard easily at the back, maybe 40 rows up, and that it produced no echo. Also, the bottom rows of seats were made with a special local limestone that absorbed sounds of a certain frequency, the effect being to drown out, or dampen, whispers from the audience. This fact, about the special limestone in the lower seats, was only discovered within the last 10 years. For some reason, the lower seats were covered for protection, or some other reason. When they were, someone noticed the acoustics changed. Only then did they examine the limestone and discover the different types.

Other facts. This location was also the site of a hospital, circa 400 BC. The museum had a display case of medical instruments of the time. 

It was a nice day, sunny, temperature in the mid 70's. While we were walking around the site with the guide, she met a friend who said something like "good day from Zeus." We thought it was a joke. Nope, Most people in Greece are now Christian, but several thousand still believe in a religion based on "the 12 gods of Olympus." Her friend was one of those.

Next we went to the fort. Nothing here except that the view of the town, which included our ship toward the left, was, as is often said, a nice view.

That's it. Back to the tender, back to the ship, and our view from the lunch table.

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